"Lucy, what are you doing?" Myra says. She lifts he chin.
Lu marks a lime green sticky note in pencil, tilts her head. "I'm making something 'cause Jack's gonna play a game with me today, " she says, "hopefully." She makes a curved scrawl on the green note. Myra frowns.
"Jack, wanna play Shoots And Ladders with me?" Lucy shouts. Jack, holed up at the little black couch, creases a fresh towel on itself, folds it in half two more times, then flops it on a stack of clean laundry.
"No," he says.
"Is it 'cause I'm so good?" Lu asks.
"No, I wanna play outside."
"Ok." Another pencil stroke across the green note and Lucy discards the pencil. She balances her note on the piano lip.
Outside. It's two shakes of a lambs tail, the laundry folded into geometric shapes, slid into cupboards, and the children are outside, an economy of play unfolding.
Then there we are again sidled up on that same table bench working out the underpinnings of a morning.
"If you give yourself less time in the time test than the teacher says," Lu chatters, "then you will go faster." She presses the stop button on the math timer, subtracts the remaining time in her head and writes her score.
She scoops up Joe Alan, her baby. His head lobbed over one shoulder, she pats his blue bottom. "Rockie at Grammie's yesterday kept asking me, Why are you STILL holding your baby?" she says. "And I was like," she cups a hand to her mouth, "in my head, Well, THAT'S how you take care of a baby."
I nod in time to her story. She rubs Joe Alan's back. I hold still to let the story unfold. A tiny vibrato of affection there between us.
The day pages by, snap shots of faces up turned to me, full moons of faces, unself-consciousness and present. The moments move past in perfect time.
"Do you know where my piggy bank is?" Myra asks.
"No." I look up from a notebook of memory work. I copy verses over and over until I know them.
"It's on my bed," Myra says, a tiny nod to punctuate. I watch her, all pjs and wild hair, and I feel it again, that tiny rhythm of a scene. We both wait, a fermata, as if a line were coming, but it didn't belong to either of us.
"Did you put the NOTE in it?" Lucy says.
"Yeah." Myra nods to Lucy there over my left shoulder, penciling away math facts. Myra turns to me, her face wide open. "It's by my pwidow," she says. A confidential tilt of her head, her bottom lip drawn up, she almost winks.
I nod. There it is again, that urge to hold perfectly still, let the current of play rush by, make as small a dent as possible.
The note. I wrote the note before bed, stuck it to her headboard. I called her Strawberry Shortcake. A note. She put it in her piggy bank next to her pwidow.
5295. Myra bonks her head. "What happened?" Craig asks. "I was speeding," Myra says.
5296. I hear a noise in the night and jostle Craig away. It's nothing. After playful jabbing he pats my leg. "It's ok," he says, "I live to protect you."
5297. "Mom, today can I wear something pretty?" Myra greets me.
5298. Joey fishes the carrots out of his stew and stacks them up on his spoon.
5299. Lucy can't find a cup so she gets a drink in a cupcake liner.
5300. "Jane, some boogers keep dribbling out of my nose," Myra Rose whinnies. "Yeah," Jane says. "Then you know what you do? Blow it. And then it stops." She fetches Myra an arm-length of toilet paper. "Here, Rose. Fold it like this. Then wipe your nose." They converse wilted on living room rug.
5301. We travel to our friends' house for dinner. The eleven of us around an old farm table, we commune over minestrone and fresh bread, salad, lemon bars and coffee. Adult and child conversations overlap in concentric circles.
5302. Joe pours a quarter cup of honey on his toast when no one's looking. Honey fingerprints dot the house. I even find them on the handle of my toothbrush.
5303. "Ya didn't paint my nails," Myra says to me. "I know, 'cause we might have to wait if there's not time," I say. "I'm just sayin' that," she says, "'cause don't you want me to be pretty tomorrow?"
5304. Cat cookies. We celebrate the last wrestling match with a bucket of cat cookies.
5305. The last wrestling match finally comes and goes. Jack takes home a gold. All the cousins look a whole year more practiced. A new grade of solidarity passes between them. And us.
5306. Lemon soap.
5307. Knitting needles. The tunic dress almost finished, I already have the needles for the next project.
5308. I mention chili powder, and Cerissa sends some over for me to try. We saddle up for another week of beans.
5309. Another week cycles by, and I count myself rich. Love encircles me. I bend a knee to my savior.